For my practically perfect girl, nothing less than a practically perfect party would do for her 3rd birthday. And so, with her love of all things Mary Poppins, that weekend saw a Poppins party like no other – elements of which even surprised me!
Parties for younger ones are always slightly more challenging as opposed to when the birthday boy or girl is that little bit older. As children get older, they understand the concept of playing games: following the rules, waiting their turn and that all these things form part of the fun. But it’s much harder for the younger ones to understand. I think it’s really important to bear this in mind, along with the personality of the birthday child when planning a party. Belle loves to be creative, but is still young enough to get bored relatively quickly if she is not involved at that precise moment. So this time around ‘pass the parcel’ was out put ‘paint the penguin’ was in!
When guests arrived, they were greeted with Burt’s chimney sweep brush and instructions to ‘Think, wink, do a double blink…’ before jumping into our very own picture which was a print out of the chalk drawing Burt creates for the Jolly Holiday scene.
To entertain our guests, I set up tables with different activities to do whilst they waited their turn for the main event (more on this later!) We had paper, string, bamboo canes and paints (and aprons!) for the party guests to make their own kites; we had penguins to ‘decoupage’ to a greater or a lesser degree depending on their age and skills and we had black paper and chalks so that they could create their very own masterpieces. I also had a blanket with some instruments on for the really little ones to play with – and this was a firm favourite with Griffin!
A party wouldn’t be a party without the odd game, so we had ‘pin the bow-tie on the penguin’ and a ‘spoonful of sugar relay race’, which resulted in considerable amounts of sugar being spilt on the lawns and very happy ants as a result!
But the main event was definitely the ‘Carousel Horses’ – well, ponies! Party guests went two-by-two to have ‘carousel’ pony rides and from the smallest to the oldest. Each and every one loved having some time riding the very fabulous and patient ponies provided by Maz at Halona Horses.
Tea included kite-shaped sandwiches (complete with kite ribbons made from spaghetti coloured with food colouring!), strawberry-filled meringue nests, red velvet cupcakes and red heart jammy dodgers – oh, and of course strawberry jelly! Despite Belle loving her Jolly Holiday costume-inspired cake, it was most definitely upstaged by Hugo the pony walking right the way up to our dining room patio doors just in time to join in the singing. As well as his party hat, Hugo was also carrying a card and small gift for the birthday girl which totally made her day (“Hugo came in our house, mummy!”).
After tea is when the magic really happened. Everyone knows that every good carousel horse is pretty-coloured and covered in ribbons, so with strict instructions to mind their feet and be gentle and calm, 14 delighted children were given paintbrushes and ribbons and invited to literally paint the ponies. Belle was chuffed to bits with the blue butterfly sponge she found and decorated oh-so patient Hugo with a row of blue butterflies all along his tummy and matching ribbons in his mane.
The party bags included birdseed to feed the birds, tuppence (chocolate coins) for a paper and sting, umbrella-shaped cookies, kite-shaped bookmarks, spoonfuls of sugar lollipops and, of course, a ‘practically perfect’ pencil.
It’s no secret that I adore throwing my children parties. I think birthdays are the most special occasion of the year for them – a day that is all about them. And for me, making that extra bit of effort to give them a party they will love is simply one of the pleasures of being a mum. But I confess, I utterly loved this party and think I enjoyed it as much as the children did. I loved begin able to actually spend time with my littlies and enjoy it with them as opposed to frantically have to run around organising games. I loved doing something so completely bonkers that you would only ever do it at a party – such as painting ponies. And I loved the smiles that one all over my beautiful girl’s face. A Jolly Holiday indeed.